George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud about the Great Tech War of 2012

podcastIn this edition of Thinking Out Loud, George and Joan discuss an article that George recently read in the magazine Fast Company, The Great Tech War of 2012. The article predicts an upcoming battle for supremacy among Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook in the markets for smartphones, tablets and more.

What impact, if any, does this looming tech war have on libraries? Would they benefit? Would they suffer? Libraries may not directly benefit but they will have a stake in the outcome. Each of these organizations are moving in similar directions. As Joan says they are verticalizing. And that is something that libraries can think about doing. Tune in to hear all of their ideas!

George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud about Libraries and Entrepreneurs

podcastThis edition of Thinking Out Loud was originally broadcast as a live webinar on November 16.

Times are tough, unemployment is up, and libraries have responded by expanding services to people who are looking for jobs. But how about addressing the needs of people who are creating jobs? Entrepreneurs, especially the “new creatives” – designers, chefs, writers, landscapers, crafters, techies, and other imaginative problem-solvers – are expected to play a leading role in the economic recovery.

Some people know from the outset that they want to start their own businesses. Others are “accidental” entrepreneurs, looking to self-employment when a traditional job proves hard to find. Either way, prospective entrepreneurs often lack the specific skills, tools, and other resources necessary for success.

George and Joan describe what these job-creators need and how innovative libraries are leveraging existing assets to accommodate them.

George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud about IT and the Five Laws of Library Science

podcastIn this edition of Thinking Out Loud, George and Joan take a look at IT in libraries – more specifically, about the relationship between library culture and IT culture. What do libraries look for when hiring IT people? What sorts of skills are needed? What might be reasonable expectations for libraries to have? They decide to frame this discussion with Ranganathan’s classic Five Laws of Library Science.

Also mentioned during this podcast, this Library Journal article.

George & Joan, Thinking Out Loud about Underutilized Library Skills

podcastIn this edition of Thinking Out Loud, Joan starts things off by relating her experience at a recent League of California Cities conference. A panel she moderated got on the topic of underutilized library skills and this topic provides the grist for a lively discussion.

Among the underutilized library skills that George and Joan take a look at:

  • customer-focused IT
  • community-based needs assessment
  • facilities management
  • in-house on-the-job training.

Let ’em Browse

Birds do it, bees do it, and I do it every morning. It’s what brought me to the brand new Hippie Gypsy coffee shop (because I did it online last night). Richard Feynman did it on the beach (and Leland Myrick depicts that perfectly in his and Jim Ottaviani’s new biography).

Browsing: it’s that wonder-producing, only semi-directed activity that helps us find the obscure, enjoy the unexpected, and even discover that what we thought were disparate ideas or tastes could actually be connected by us to make wholes greater than the sums of their parts. Laura Larsell discusses this eloquently, so go to Mashable right now and–after you’ve browsed it–consider the ways your library staff might be energized by opportunities to browse on the job:

  • They could become more comfortable readers’ advisors for browsing the stacks instead of just the new book shelves
  • They might locate the perfect (and free!) online resource for that perennial, thorn-in-the-side-of-a-necessarily-limited-book-collection homework assignment
  • They could rediscover values that first brought them together and thus give them the opportunity to communicate well on the job

How can you help browsers to feel satisfied instead of overwhelmed? While birds and bees are “wired” to favor appropriate colors and scents (to say nothing of mates), Mary, at the Hippie Gypsy, puts out a specials board so newcomers won’t be turned off by the length and possibilities her menu suggests. In libraryland, that translates to displays, online discovery overlays for the catalog, and events we plan to encourage users to focus on specific parts of our collections and services.

So mix it up: let ’em browse as well as pointing out what you think might be the most expeditious way of getting to what they want.